Bhupinderpal Gill and Gurpreet Ronald found guilty of first-degree murder
Published Wednesday, July 20, 2016 11:18AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:46PM EDT
Guilty of murder in the first degree. Those words rang out in an Ottawa courtroom today followed by applause, hugs and tears. After 9 weeks of testimony and 6 days of deliberation, a jury found lovers Bhupinderal Gill and Gurpreet Ronald guilty of killing Jagtar Gill. It was an emotional nine weeks and an explosive morning in an Ottawa courtroom. To cheers and a Sikh prayer, Gill and Ronald were led away, to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Jagtar Gill's father, Ajit Singh, led the family in a Sikh prayer outside the Ottawa courthouse moments after the verdicts, a prayer of thanks for a positive outcome to an otherwise tragic ending for the Barrhaven mother of three.
“And now we get justice,” added Jagtar’s sister, Harjinder Sidhu, “thank you, jury. They made a good decision.”
Jagtar Gill's lifeless body was discovered on the rug of her family room by her 15-year-old daughter in January of 2014. She had been beaten and bludgeoned. Within weeks, both her husband, Bhupinderpal and his lover, Gupreet Ronald, were arrested for plotting the murder and carrying it out. The two maintained their innocence throughout and pleaded not guilty.
Nerves were riding high this morning for Jagtar's family, who had been at the courthouse every day since the trial started.
“This is a hard time for the family,” Sidhu told reporters.
It was especially hard for her elderly parents, 73-year-old Ajit Singh and 71-year-old Jagir Kaur, who wrote a victim impact statement, read out in court by Jagtar's 23-year-old niece Ramandeep Chahal, in which they call Bhupinderpal Gill a "waste of flesh" and say the two
"inflicted on Jagtar unimaginable pain and suffering. Even more agonizing is that Bhupinderpal and Gurpreet did not have the courage to stand up, take the blame and be truthful. Instead, they made all attempts to deny the truth and escape the consequences.”
Ramandeep Chahal said outside the court that Jagtar had been like a mother to her, a wonderful woman who loved her children and who always gave of herself.
“Her life on this earth was short and far from perfect,” Chahal said, “but I believe she got her freedom now, her soul is free and she is ready to go to a better place, to be at peace.”
For the Crown, and the police, it was a verdict they had worked for and hoped for.
“Obviously the jury was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the two accused in this case,” Deputy Crown Attorney Brian Holowka told reporters outside the courthouse.
Gill's lawyer, James Harbic, though, plans to appeal and says his client is devastated by the verdict.
“He's just shocked; he was really not prepared for this result,” Harbic said, “He believed in his innocence and did not feel it would be possible that he would be convicted.”
Gurpreet Ronald's lawyer Michael Smith says an appeal is a possible optionand that client is shaken, too.
“Obviously there is great sadness, disappointment and confusion,” Smith said in a telephone interview, “trying to understand how the jury came to the decision they did. So today is not the day to make decisions (on an appeal) but to think about options and proceed from there.”
For Jagtar's family, though, it's the verdict they prayed for and got. Jagtar's ashes have remained at funeral home in Ottawa all this time. The family hopes now to gather those ashes, take them to India where they can spread them in the hope that perhaps Jagtar Gill may then find some peace.